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First Look: Simplifi, dock, card reader, and USB hub

updated 01:20 pm EDT, Fri October 31, 2008

Simplifi, dock/reader/hub

One of the biggest flaws of Macs is that they don't include built-in media card readers. This makes sense, given the bewildering array of different media cards available and the fact that media card readers offer more slots than anyone could possibly want or use, hence wasting space and marring the uncluttered appearance of the computer. Another problem with any computer is the limited number of available USB ports. If this problem of media card readers and USB ports sounds familiar to you, then consider Griffin Technology's Simplifi.

This unit is a combination iPod/iPhone dock/charger/synchronization base, media card reader, and USB hub. It's small enough to carry with your laptop and gets its power by plugging directly into an electrical outlet or a USB port. Included with this item is a charger, to plug into the wall, and a USB cable so you can choose which method is most convenient for you.

If you plan to use this primarily as a USB hub and want to insure that it provides enough power, you'll want to use the plug-in charger. If your primary use is docking your iPod/iPhone or plugging in media cards from a digital camera, then you may want to plug it in through the USB port. Just be aware that when powered through its USB cable, this device may not have enough power for any additional USB devices that may be plugged into it.

As a USB hub, this item only provides two additional USB ports while dedicated USB hubs often provide four or more USB ports. If you need plenty of USB ports, then this device may fall short of your needs. However, if you just need one or two additional USB ports to plug in an external hard disk or printer, then this product will be fine.

As a media card reader, this device can accept the Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital (SD), Secure Digital High-Capacity (SDHC), xD and CompactFlash (CF) cards. If your digital camera uses a different media card (such as the older SmartCard format), you won't be able to use this item as your media card reader.

Where this product shines is as an iPod/iPhone recharger and synchronization dock. Plastic adapters allow you to plug a variety of different iPods (including the iPhone) directly on top. While your iPod/iPhone is recharging, you can also synchronize your music or data from your Mac as well.

With its small size and limited space, this product offers a remarkable combination of features that can eliminate a separate media card reader and USB hub. Its docking and recharger unit for the iPod/iPhone is no more or less useful than the standard USB cable that came with your iPod/iPhone.

If you can take advantage of its media card reader and USB hub, you'll find this product handy for your Mac. For the right person, the $69.99 Simplifi can definitely keep your computer area clean and uncluttered. If you just need a media card reader for your Mac, there may be less expensive alternatives, but none as versatile as the Simplifi.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jhawk95

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All In One

    How about just getting an All-In-One media card reader for $9 at MicroCenter or Frye's?

    It fits in your backpack or computer bag and reads ALL card types and is there when you need it via USB.

  1. chelsel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    A card reader doesn't have to be ugly. Just take a look at how Apple did the ExpressCard slot for an example of how it can be done. I have no idea why Apple chooses to ignore this popular feature, even if it only supported SD. Also, the only people using CompactFlash these days are pros who would probably prefer a "pro" external reader anyway.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ExpressCard Slot

    This looks like a smart design combining a card reader and dock. Using one USB port for multiple duty, makes a lot of sense.

    It doesn't make sense for Apple to build in a dedicated card reader slot into the MacBook or MacBook Pro. With media card formats constantly being added, abandoned or upgraded, which do you opt for or omit?

    Some users may never use a card reader, or rely on the cable from their camera. So, it makes sense for people who need or want card readers to select the type they prefer.

    Besides, card readers are cheap. I've got a $10 Iogear card reader that doubles as USB thumb drive. For professional users, you can get FireWire or ExpressCard slot readers for faster speed.

    Apple likes to keep the design simple, yet flexible through the use of add-ons and third party solutions. Let the customer decide.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Card readers are cheap...

    but then why doesn't Apple add card readers to any of their computers, especially their notebooks. How much trouble is this for them? I used my MacBook Pro's Express Card slot but had to buy a flush adapter to accomodate an SDHC card reader. The MacBook Air should have at least had a single SDHC card reader to take the place of an optical drive. I really can't figure out Apple's reason for not using multi-card reader slots. Are they just too expensive for Apple to put on a circuit board? I'd really like at least an explanation so maybe I could understand what Apple has against memory card readers on any of their products.

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